My Dearest Friends,

Today I am going to go against the flow and NOT mess with the topic of the president and his numerous problems, NOT debate the YK2 bug, and NOT talk about the latest groovy movie. I want to talk about cigarettes.

I don't smoke. However, cigarettes and the tobacco industry have a tremendous effect on me. It has a tremendous effect on all of us! I think this is an important topic to discuss. As usual, please send me any comments on my column to me and I will address them.

My life was most changed by cigarettes when I was seven years old. My grandmother, a smoker, died of lung cancer. I really miss her. She is the only person in my entire family who I resemble.

Cigarettes kill. It's a fact. Most people will focus on nicotine when discussing the deadliness of cigarettes. That's not quite the whole of the problem. Nicotine is addictive, but it does not directly kill. It is not a carcinogen. There are over 13 known carcinogens, or poisons, in cigarette smoke. It is these poisons that kill, not the nicotine. These carcinogens cause many illnesses, including cancers in the throat, mouth, and esophagus, as well as in the lungs. Smoking also increases your risk for heart disease, so if heart disease and high blood pressure run in your family, you may be committing suicide each time you light up a ciggy.

My grandfather still smokes. Somehow, his wife dying, heart disease, heart surgery, and his grandchildren don't give him the determination to kill his addiction. His skin is dry and flaking, and covered with blemishes. His fingernails are yellow and break easily. His body is covered with ugly scars from his heart bypass surgery. His hair and clothes stink, and just hugging him leaves you smelling, too. You can't eat unpackaged food from his house because it tastes like smoke. Last summer I washed his windows, and the paper towels I used turned black and brown with every wipe, from years of cigarette smoke build-up.

His whole life, his family, his money, what comes first? A plant. Everything is controlled by a plant. A plant he purposely sets on fire and breathes smoke from. That is so not cool.

Many people think that as long as they don't smoke, they will be fine. Oh, if only it were that simple. Every time I go shopping or even to the bathroom at school, what do I see? What do I breathe? Smoke, that's what. When you pass through the doors of a restaurant, McDonalds even, people are standing outside, seemingly for the sole purpose of making you loose your appetite before you eat by blowing smoke into your face. Yum.

Secondhand smoke IS dangerous. Why? Don't you believe me? Well, the average smoker smokes cigarettes with those non-biodegradable filters that limit the crap that he or she inhales. Secondhand smoke is mostly "side-stream" smoke. You know the stuff that curls off the end of a smoldering cigarette. Well, if you are breathing that smoke, you are getting MORE poisons than the smoker (with the filter, which you don't have) is getting! You can get up to 100% more of certain carcinogens when you breathe secondhand smoke. Remember that those are the same carcinogens that make you sick. You gonna yell at dad now next time he lights up while the family is watching the boob tube? I hope so. And at least get your family mutt, Rex, out of the room. Cigarette smoke can be even more deadly to animals than it is to humans.

I am out of space now and so I shall continue this discussion later.


If you have a comment or would like to see Mallory address a certain topic, please write or e-mail today!

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